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Sen. Dianne Feinstein is assured a spot on fall ballot

June 5, 2012 |  9:06 pm

Click for live results from the California primary

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) leaped to a commanding lead against 23 little-known challengers, according to absentee ballot returns Tuesday night.

Feinstein captured about 51% of the early balloting, assuring her a place in the general election under the state's new "top-two" primary rules.

Autism activist Susan Emken, a Republican, polled about 12% of the absentee tally, making her the early favorite to face Feinstein in the fall.

LIVE RESULTS: California primary

Feinstein, 78, was first elected in 1992 and is seeking her fourth full term.

Emken was among 14 Republicans wanting to take on Feinstein. Others included Oceanside businessman Dan Hughes and dentist/attorney Orly Taitz of Laguna Niguel, who gained name recognition for her efforts to show that President Obama was not born in the U.S.

The two top vote-getters will advance to the fall election, regardless of party affiliation. 


The political sands are shifting in California

Obama, not issues, is the draw for some L.A. voters

New rules, low turnout mark state's primary election

--Jean Merl

Photo: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Credit: Lauren Victoria Burke / Associated Press